The Client and the Site
Grey is one of the ten largest advertising agencies in the world, with offices in 154 cities across 96 countries, 6,500 employees globally, and a revenue north of 1 billion USD. The group are a major part of the WPP plc parent, and in 1962 their London office opened.
Grey London are based in the Johnson Building, Hatton Garden. The original building dates back to 1927 but has been modernised by recent development projects that exemplify how thoughtful urban renewal can knit new with old to breath new life into the city. It's a truly great building to have delivered a project in, and it seems like a great place to work, too!
Our first project with Grey concerned their impressive double-height Ground Floor space which flows between an area used for their main Reception area, an events space, and a flexible meeting environment.
This expansive open-plan space has a great deal of different uses for the organisation - from small informal meetings, to large corporate events, and even their regular 'all hands' meetings for their 400 staff that are based in the building. The café is heavily used by the staff, and the adjacent seating area is used for staff down time. These diverse needs required a flexible audio and AV system that could quickly and easily be adapted to a range of requirements, and which would be easy for even non-technical staff to use but up to the challenge of their most demanding client-presentations with everything riding on the punch and wow-factor of the pitch!
Crossover were tasked with a complete overhaul of the reception and bar area AV systems. The existing audio system was simply no longer fit for purpose; it suffered from frequent audio intelligibility and microphone feedback issues during events, and it used a sound mixing desk and hardware that required sound engineering expertise to use. There was also a need to address the acoustic response of the space, with frequent complaints of sound spillage into the First Floor offices and general lack of intelligibility.
Following a very rigorous supplier selection process, Crossover were chosen to deliver these two key elements of the experience, based upon our bespoke design work, portfolio, and the positive feedback that Grey received from our previous clients.
The AV System
The improved audio system consisted of nine wall mounted loudspeakers that were spaced along the room to reinforce the entire Ground Floor space, providing a wide-area sound dispersion angle and a frequency response that delivers an even sound coverage with rich, full frequencies.
These loudspeakers were configured into two distinct audio zones: Bar Area and Reception. To maximize intelligibility, the 'brains' of the system were configured to time delay speakers for events with presenters using microphones which, meaning that listeners at the back of the room would receive a more direct sound source and the sense that the audio was coming from the front of the room.
A third audio zone was created using two existing small KEF loudspeakers at the front of the space by the main display screens. These would be used for small group presentations.
The control element of the system needed to be both straight forward and simple to use, as well as dynamic enough to deliver for any scenario or event. To achieve this, Crossover delivered a custom-programmed control system with a stylish GUI (Graphics User Interface) that incorporated the Grey London logo and aesthetic.
An iPad and a wired touch panel give Grey London flexibility in how and where the system is controlled.
The app-like control interface features a number of audio and video presets which when pressed, trigger a sophisticated audio DSP (digital signal processor) and video scaling switcher to automatically and instantly change audio levels, video inputs and audio sources as required by the preset . These one-touch presets include:
- Background Music - low level background music is provided throughout the space
- Bar Night - the Bar Area zone has louder music, appropriate to a bar at night, whilst the music in the Reception area remains at low level
- Small Meeting - designed for small group presentations on the front
screens. The Bar area loudspeakers are muted, apart from the front two small
speakers, allowing a presenter to be heard clearly when necessary.
- Company Meeting - for all hands meetings where the space is filled with up to 300 staff, delivering exciting presentations to the Bar and Reception area combined. Microphone levels are raised and un-muted, ready for the presenters.
At the client's request certain features were hidden on password-protected screens, making the system less prone to abuse. Admin users can the access the full flexibility of the system to manually adjust levels and inputs to tweak the system for the perfect set-up.
Below: Bespoke GUI created for the control system implemented at Grey London
The feedback Crossover received from staff at Grey London was very positive, and reflected the huge success the project had been. The first large meeting conducted with the new system revealed a huge improvement to both the presenters and audience. The system provided a clear and intelligible sound to all of the 200+ people in attendance, and with a much swifter and easier setup process ahead of the event, and without a single technical issue throughout.
Crossover are delighted to have been chosen by Grey London to deliver this AV project to their London Headquarters.